fum·​ble | \ ˈfəm-bəl How to pronounce fumble (audio) \
fumbled; fumbling\ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce fumbling (audio) \

Definition of fumble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to grope for or handle something clumsily or aimlessly
b : to make awkward attempts to do or find something fumbled in his pocket for a coin
c : to search by trial and error
d : blunder
2 : to feel one's way or move awkwardly
3a : to drop or juggle or fail to play cleanly a grounder
b : to lose hold of a football while handling or running with it

transitive verb

1 : to bring about by clumsy manipulation
2a : to feel or handle clumsily
b : to deal with in a blundering way : bungle
3 : to make (one's way) in a clumsy manner
4a : misplay fumble a grounder
b : to lose hold of (a football) while handling or running



Definition of fumble (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of fumbling
2 : a fumbled ball

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Other Words from fumble


fumbler \ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce fumbler (audio) \ noun
fumblingly \ ˈfəm-​b(ə-​)liŋ-​lē How to pronounce fumblingly (audio) \ adverb

Examples of fumble in a Sentence


She fumbled in her pocket for her keys. They fumbled a good opportunity to take control of the market. He was hit hard and fumbled on the 20-yard line. He fumbled the ball on the 20-yard line.


played the entire piano piece without a single fumble
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The play initially was ruled an incomplete pass before video review determined Goff had fumbled, but Jordan’s long return didn’t count because officials had blown the play dead. BostonGlobe.com, "With Drew Brees watching from the sideline in Los Angeles with an injured hand, the Rams didn’t need a no-call to beat the New Orleans Saints again.," 16 Sep. 2019 On just his third play in his first start for Kentucky, Smith fumbled a snap though, giving Florida the ball back at the Kentucky 34-yard line. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky football falls short of second straight Florida win on late missed field goal," 15 Sep. 2019 On his second possession and with the crowd of more than 90,000 still in awe of the touchdown sling, Calzada fumbled after he was hit from the side, and Lamar recovered early in the fourth quarter. Brent Zwerneman, ExpressNews.com, "Texas A&M crushes Lamar 62-3 in final tune-up before SEC play," 14 Sep. 2019 In the third quarter, the Knights fumbled the exchange with the ball at the Marina three, and Church recovered it. Andrew Turner, Daily Pilot, "Marina football uses six defensive turnovers to upset Katella," 13 Sep. 2019 Cohen fumbled the pitch and the Bears were fortunate that Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark was called for holding. Brad Biggs, chicagotribune.com, "Column: An easy fix? The Bears’ lopsided play-calling in the opener was out of character for Matt Nagy," 10 Sep. 2019 Emotion: boy fumbled the whole post season in the biggest game of year ! Laurence Miedema, The Mercury News, "Antonio Brown’s wild ride with the Raiders," 8 Sep. 2019 Despite setting up shop with good field position for the their ensuing drive, Carver fumbled. Kyle Andrews, baltimoresun.com, "Eric Browner, Michael Gray lead Lake Clifton past Carver, 28-18, in inaugural Kickoff Classic; City and Mervo also win," 8 Sep. 2019 Two plays later, Sage Hill fumbled and Flintridge Prep’s Kevin Ashworth recovered at the home 15. Andrew J. Campa, Glendale News-Press, "Flintridge Prep football revels in playoff rematch rout of Sage Hill," 6 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

First quarter Al-Quadion Muhammad forces a fumble, but Darius Leonard an Clayton Geathers can't gather the ball and Tennessee recovers. Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star, "Colts get first win of season in nail-biter over Titans, but Vinatieri worries prevail," 15 Sep. 2019 John Moore, Chickasaw: Had six tackles, four sacks, forced a fumble and returned a fumble 43 yards for a score for the Chieftains. Ben Thomas | Bthomas@al.com, al, "Vote for the top Coastal FB Player for the week ending Sept. 13," 15 Sep. 2019 Carter Coughlin forced a fumble and Thomas Barber recovered at the Eagles’ 26, but the Gophers did nothing to add to their touchdown lead with the great field position. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "After disasters, Gophers rally again to beat Georgia Southern 35-32," 14 Sep. 2019 Withrow forced a fumble and erased a potential game-costing error on the very next play, returning it 23 yards before being forced out by the last Taft defender, Brazziel. Donnie Menke, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati, Ohio, high school football: Taft Senators outlast Withrow Tigers, 29-26," 13 Sep. 2019 Saturday, backup linebacker Dallas Gant forced a fumble late in the fourth quarter to preserve the shutout. Doug Lesmerises, cleveland.com, "Ohio State football shutout has defense creating Silver Bullet feelings of 10 years ago," 13 Sep. 2019 Fred Warner had a team-high nine tackles and forced a fumble. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, "49ers report card: Defense rescues shaky Garoppolo, offense," 9 Sep. 2019 Backup inside linebacker Sampson Niu had an interception and forced a fumble. oregonlive, "Oregon Ducks defense has most dominant performance since 2010 while decimating Nevada," 8 Sep. 2019 Myles Wiley has intercepted a pass and Alberto Guzman has forced a fumble for DP this season. J.c. Carnahan, orlandosentinel.com, "Jones at Edgewater headlines Week 3 high school football predictions," 6 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fumble.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fumble


1534, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


1634, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fumble


probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Swedish fumla to fumble

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Statistics for fumble

Last Updated

21 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for fumble

The first known use of fumble was in 1534

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More Definitions for fumble



English Language Learners Definition of fumble

: to search for something by reaching or touching with your fingers in an awkward or clumsy way
: to handle something in an awkward or clumsy way
sports : to fail to catch or hold the ball


fum·​ble | \ ˈfəm-bəl How to pronounce fumble (audio) \
fumbled; fumbling

Kids Definition of fumble

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to feel about for or handle something in a clumsy way He fumbled in his pockets.
2 : to lose hold of the ball in football



Kids Definition of fumble (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of losing hold of the ball in football

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More from Merriam-Webster on fumble

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fumble

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fumble

Spanish Central: Translation of fumble

Nglish: Translation of fumble for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fumble

Comments on fumble

What made you want to look up fumble? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to spread over or through

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